Western Courier

Bush dismisses Arafat, pushes for new leader


Issue date: 9/19/03 Section: Nation
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WASHINGTON (KRT) - President Bush, dismissing Yasser Arafat as a failed leader, urged Palestinians on Thursday to rally around a new leader who is "absolutely 100 percent committed to fighting off terror."

The president said he still supported what he acknowledged is a stalled process for Palestinian and Israeli peace and remained committed to the United States-backed "road map" that would lead to a new Palestinian state.

But, following a new wave of regional violence and retaliation just three months after he had personally intervened to bring the parties together in Jordan, Bush said, "There must be a collective effort to fight off terror."

"The world will come together to help an economy grow so that the Palestinian people can have a hopeful future," he said. "But the first thing that must happen is an absolute condemnation and defeat of those forces who will kill innocent people in order to stop a peace process from going forward."

In a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II at Camp David - hastily rearranged around the threatening hurricane Isabel - Bush said he intended to explore ways during the king's overnight visit to revive peace efforts.

And the king said that he, too, was intent on pushing ahead, concentrating on the urgent need to get the "process back on track."

Stricter monitoring of various aspects of the road map by the United States and its "Quartet" partners - Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - the king suggested, would have to wait.

"We're talking now about the principle of getting the movement forward again and the Palestinians engaging positively in the right direction," he said.

The king hosted talks between Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan, in June. But new attacks in Israel by Palestinian suicide bombers, retaliation by Israel and the abrupt resignation of Abbas have again thrown the region into dire chaos.
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